ACT Economic Survival: $214 million in support for our hospitals, local businesses & households

Released 02/04/2020

The ACT Government will provide more support to our healthcare sector to increase capacity in anticipation of an increase in Canberrans needing lifesaving health support in the weeks and months ahead.

This includes the construction of a temporary COVID-19 Emergency Department through a partnership with local healthcare provider Aspen Medical. The package also provides funding to our hospitals to purchase more equipment and more personal protective equipment for our nurses and doctors.

Since the ACT Government put in place the first round of economic survival measures, work has continued among all Australian Governments to provide a comprehensive economic response to this pandemic.

While the immediate priority is our health response, as reflected in the Government's latest announcements, further short term economic measures are also required.

Jobs for Canberrans

The ACT Government will establish a 'Jobs for Canberrans' fund to allow ACT Government Directorates to continue employing people for cleaning, repairs and maintenance projects. This fund will focus on providing secure work opportunities for Canberrans who have relied an casual work and are not eligible for the Commonwealth's wage subsidy scheme.

Economic survival measures for Canberra households

The Government has finalised a framework to support ACT renters who are suffering rental stress due to a loss of income related to COVID-19 measures.
With a number of renters expected to receive financial support through the Commonwealth Wage Subsidy scheme, the ACT Government will encourage landlords to reduce rents by at least 25 per cent for tenants under rental stress by sharing the cost reduction of the rental on a 50/50 basis, capped at $1,300 per quarter (around $100 a week). This could result in rental relief of up to $200 a week for tenants who have lost income due to COVID-19.

The Government will delay the issuing of all general rates notices by four weeks, and push back payment dates by that time, to allow people eligible for Commonwealth assistance to start receiving it.

Some households in the Territory will have significant financial hardship in the months ahead. To help ease cashflow pressures for these households, any owner occupier in the Territory experiencing hardship because of COVID-19 will be eligible for a deferral of their general household rates for 12 months. No interest will be applied to the deferred amount.

Economic Survival for local businesses

For some business tenants and commercial landlords, the COVID-19 pandemic will have little to no impact on their financial situation. For others, the measures introduced to slow the spread of the virus have completely shut down their business operations and reduced their business income to zero. These businesses are in need of assistance from governments and their landlords.

The Government cannot offer this support alone and commercial landlords will need to play their part. Most will not be making money through this period, and cost-sharing or the deferrals of losses will have to occur between Government, landlords, tenants and financial institutions.

To ensure we can provide the highest level support for those that need it most, we have structured our commercial economic survival measures based on need.

This includes a new framework to assist commercial landlords in providing rent relief for local business tenants who have had their business operations restricted.

Depending on the level of hardship commercial tenants are facing, landlords will be eligible to apply for a waiver or rebate on their commercial rates, tied to the rental relief passed onto their tenants.

A tiered category system will be put in place to ensure that tenants that have little to no impact to their financial situation are required to continue to meet their rental obligations, while those that suffering the most financial hardship get the highest level of support from both their landlord and the ACT Government through matched relief.

Further economic survival measures to support businesses through this pandemic include;

  • Rental relief to commercial and community tenants of ACT Government owned properties that have been significantly impact by the virus;
  • A guarantee to continue providing a six month waiver of payroll tax any businesses whose operations are directly affected by the 'prohibited activities list' now, and into the future; and
  • Deferring the issuing of notices for 2019-20 quarter four commercial rates instalments by four weeks to provide immediate cash flow assistance to commercial property owners.

More support for local industries

The community club sector has been entirely shut down as a result of public health measures. The Government has already provided a number of measures to support the community clubs sector. This support will now be enhanced to reduce costs, and provide immediate cash for clubs who want to surrender gaming machine authorisations, to enable the sector to keep as many staff employed as possible.

The construction industry is vital to the long-term economic survival of the nation's economy. While the sector is continuing to operate under physical distancing requirements, there may be impacts to the financial viability of construction businesses in the weeks and months ahead. To protect as many jobs as possible in the industry, the ACT Government is enabling businesses in the construction sector to access interest free payroll tax deferrals for six months.

Small off-licence small businesses will receive a 12 month waiver of the liquor licencing fees from 1 April 2020.

The Government will also provide a one-off payment of up to $5,000 to taxi drivers who lease their taxi plates from private owners. This measure provides the same level of support to taxi drivers and plate owners who lease Government issued plates.

For a full list of the economic survival measures provided by the ACT Government, visit Work is continuing among all Australian Governments to provide a consistent and comprehensive economic response to this pandemic. The ACT Government will continue to work with other Governments on further measures to partner with local businesses to survive this period and protect as many jobs as possible.

- Statement ends -

Section: Andrew Barr, MLA | Media Releases

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